February 21, 2021

THE TRUMP BRAND:

Michael Flynn's Wild Ride Into The Heart Of QAnon: In the weeks before the Capitol siege, Trump's former national security adviser went on a far-right media blitz to promote wild conspiracy theories. (Nick Robins-Early, 2/21/21, HuffPo)

Michael Flynn stood in front of a cheering crowd of QAnon believers, far-right extremists and other Trump supporters, and told them he was absolutely certain Donald Trump would remain the president. It was Dec. 12 and Trump had already lost the election, but at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., Flynn proclaimed "a spiritual battle for the heart and soul of this country" that would end with Trump's victory.

As three of his siblings applauded behind him, Flynn vowed that the election was not over and that "courts aren't gonna decide who the next president of the United States is gonna be." Flynn said Trump trusted his supporters to "not allow what's happening to happen in our country" and called on them to "fight back" against an alleged plot involving groundless conspiracy theories of election fraud and rigged voting machines.

"Why not look inside these machines? Why? Why not? What are they afraid of? What are they hiding from? They are hiding from something!" Flynn told the crowd.

The December event foreshadowed Trump's Jan. 6 rally, which led to a far-right mob storming the U.S. Capitol, and many of the same groups were involved, including dark-money nonprofit Women for America First. Violence also followed the first event, with Proud Boys gang members involved in brawls and stabbings that resulted in 33 arrests. The December rally was part of a string of speeches and media appearances, leading up to the January insurrection, in which Flynn lent his voice to the authoritarian movement to keep Trump in office. [...]

In early 2017, Flynn was one of the most powerful men in the world. After decades in military intelligence, the former three-star lieutenant general had landed the role of Trump's national security adviser. Four years later, he would appear on conspiracy theorist podcasts with hosts who claim vaccines contain Communist microchips and who interview men that say they've had sex with space aliens. In that world, Flynn is something between a saint and a folk hero ― a key figure in the QAnon movement, which believes a secret cabal of international pedophiles controls the country and an anonymous insider known as "Q" is sending out secret instructions to bring the cabal down. 

QAnon believers and far-right militias came to believe that Flynn would help them take control. Days after the Dec. 12 rally, the Three Percenters militia threatened action to overturn the election results. "We are ready to enter into battle with General Flynn leading the charge," one of the largest Three Percenters groups said in a statement on Dec. 16. Multiple Three Percenters would later be charged in connection with the Capitol riot, including a 48-year-old man who allegedly threatened to kill his family if they contacted law enforcement.

Even as Flynn became a symbolic military leader for these extremists, he retained close ties to the president. After his brief stint as national security adviser ended in disgrace, Trump reportedly floated naming him chief of staff or FBI director and hosted him in the Oval Office. 

And when Trump pardoned Flynn late last year, he set the former general loose to indulge in QAnon fanfare and promote the same falsehoods that insurrectionists took to the Capitol building.

Posted by at February 21, 2021 10:53 AM

  

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